American Univesity of Beirut


Alain Daou is an Associate Professor in entrepreneurship at the Olayan School of Business (OSB), Director of the Nature Conservation Center at the American University of Beirut and Chair of the SME impact initiative at Khaddit Beirut. Before joining academia, Alain worked for 10 years with several not-for-profit organizations as project manager, country manager, in house advisor and consultant in Canada, Central America, Middle East and Africa.

Upon completing his PhD at Laval University in Canada (2014), he moved to KU Leuven in Belgium to complete a post-doctoral research project on social entrepreneurship. Through his research, Alain tries to understand how certain types of enterprises such as social enterprises, not-for-profit and small and medium businesses innovate, scale up and have a positive social, environmental and economic impact on stakeholders and society as a whole. In 2020, he was chosen as part of the #thinklist of racialized thinkers in responsible business, by the University of Bath’s Centre for Business, Organisation and Society (CBOS). In 2021 the SME impact initiative at Khaddit Beirut was recognized as an AACSB International Innovation That Inspires.

At AUB-NCC Alain leads projects related to sustainable entrepreneurship in Jordan, Spain and Tunisia; circular economy in the wine sector, as well as waste management projects and inclusive and sustainable SMEs in Lebanon.​​

​​​Past Directors

Dr. Najat Aoun-Saliba

Director from 2013-2020

At AUB-NCC she leads in offering innovative solutions to local rural environmental challenges through public participatory and citizen science approaches.  Her recent work at AUB-NCC has focused on waste management and water contamination.  Her outputs made headline news in local and international media outlets and
culminated in over 85 peer-reviewed articles that are highly cited. 

She is the recipient of the 2019 L'Oréal-UNESCO International Award for Women in Science, the National Order of the Cedar from the President of the Lebanese Republic, the Honorary Cedar Shield from the Speaker of the Parliament of Lebanon, the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research Award in the Environmental Category in 2016 and along with a multidisciplinary team, the 2018 American Psychological Association (APA) Prize for Interdisciplinary Team Research.

In 2019, she was awarded the Laureate for Africa and the Arab States, as part of the L'OREAL-UNESCO For Women in Science International Awards. This highly prestigious award only select five women from around the world ​and "recognize accomplished women researchers, to encourage more young women to enter the profession and to assist them once their careers are in progress."

Click here to watch her speech during the award ceremony.

On the 16th​ of October 2019, BBC announced the Top 100 Women ​in the World for 2019, among which Dr. Saliba.

She once said: "Like the positive and negative dipoles defining a chemical bond, and the yin and the yang staging the balance in nature, women and men must co-reign to solve our current and future environmental threats."


Click here to watch her interview with BBC.​

​​Dr. Salma Talhouk

Director from 2001-2012

Dr. Salma N. Talhouk is a tenured full professor in the department of landscape design and ecosystem management in the faculty of agricultural and food sciences at the American University of Beirut. Her focus is on advancing community stewardship of natural resources, exploring dig​​ital technologies for nature conservation, shedding light on cultural ecosystem services, and investigating the use of native and ecologically adapted plants for roofs and green walls. 

Talhouk is currently leading a participatory mapping of natural and cultural landmarks in Lebanon through crowdsourcing using a free phone application that she developed with her team. She developed in collaboration with public and private schools an extracurricular nature-based activities manual. To reach out to the public Talhouk published a book on the trees of Lebanon, a manual on forest tree nurseries management, a children's Arabic alphabet nature book, and she translated Dr. Seuss’s Lorax into Arabic. Her more recent interest is a project that explores the links between nature and culture by defining nature and natural resources as object of cultural concern providing nonmaterial services, such as recreation, aesthetic experiences, healing, and spiritual enrichment. 

Professor Talhouk was the founding Director of AUB’s Nature Conservation Center; she has served as the chairperson of the Department of Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management and as the Associate Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences. She is currently the founding Chair of the AUB botanic garden committee, a member of the steering committee of the ecosystem services partnership, and the IUCN Arabian Plant specialist group.​

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